What is an addiction? It is a condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or behavior which provides an incentive to continuously repeat the behavior despite the end result being negative to the person. There are various forms of addiction and the list seems to grow with every passing day. Addiction can be psychological or even behavioral. The types range from drugs like cocaine and alcohol to behavior like stealing and gambling. They are majorly characterized by cravings, compulsions and even lifestyle dysfunction due to drug use. As much as they harm the user they have an overall negative effect on the surrounding people as well.
Alcohol is the most socially accepted drug in the world social Alcoholism is the oldest and most well-known form of addiction. Alcoholism is a very serious medical disease with signs and symptoms that vary with the level of consumption of the individual. Some of the physical signs of excessive alcohol consumption are; poor balance and clumsiness, slurred speech, redness of the face during or after periods of consumption among many others. It is possible for someone to reach a life-threatening level of intoxication/ alcohol poisoning where the person will stop breathing due to the respiratory system becoming depressed.
Effects of Alcohol
Progressive increase in the amount of alcohol consumed by the abuser often leads to more serious medical symptoms. The abuser often thrives and tries to maintain an environment where there is least or no regulation, hence, a higher chance of over-consumption. The over-consumption of alcohol has both short term and long term effects on the user.
Once consumed the first effects are relaxation and reduced inhibitions.They then progress to lowered concentration and reflex, all as a result of the slowing down of the brain activity. Some of the other effects include; slurring of speech, drowsiness, emotional changes, nausea and vomiting, loss of bladder and bowel control, temporary loss of consciousness and the occasional blackout where the user fails to remember the details of the time at which he/she was drinking.
The long-term consumption of alcohol in a non-regulated manner causes the death of brain cells that may lead to a lower level of mental function and increases the chances of acquiring a variety of medical disorders. For instance, it increases the risk of liver damage, cancer and even depression of the immune system. The overconsumption of alcohol may lead to pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas and may cause nerve damage. In some advanced states, it leads to reduced sexual performance that may cause the victim to fall into depression as well.
It is also referred to as alcohol dependence and occurs when the body cannot function without alcohol. It affects neurotransmitters such that the brain cannot send proper signals to the rest of the body without the presence of alcohol in the system. Scientists have not been able to determine the cause of alcoholism but have been able to find several factors that contribute to this state. The leading risk factors were found to be genetic predisposition, environment, and mental health.
Treatment for Alcoholism
The treatment of alcohol dependence is known as detoxification. If a user attempts to stop alcohol consumption without proper medical advice and supervision it may lead to a variety of complications. Some of these complications are; tremors or uncontrolled shaking of the hands, profuse sweating even in cool temperatures, extreme agitation, nausea, seizures, hallucinations and even persistent insomnia. After detoxification, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation treatment and therapy are required to help patients cope and avoid future abuse. There are usually residential treatment programs that are available at rehab centers where patients can focus on recovery.
Nicotine addiction is associated mainly with tobacco products and is responsible for their addictive nature. It is usually a colorless or in some cases a type of yellow liquid. It is crucial to note that nicotine is both a stimulant and a sedative. As much as it causes a stimulating effect it also relaxes the body providing a certain state of euphoria which makes it addictive. The higher the concentrations of nicotine are the greater the sense of euphoria will be. It activates the part of the brain responsible for rewarding the body. This reward center provides the motivation that regular users feel to be a reward after the completion of a difficult task or tiresome day. Many users tend to think it relaxes them but in actual sense it makes them feel as if they are being rewarded by having that cigarette which leads to severe addiction.
According to a research done by CDC, it was found that 90% of cigarette smokers try their first smoke by the age of 18 and 99% by the age of 26. Nicotine at high doses is toxic and may interfere with the functioning of the nerves and skeletal muscle cells. It possesses mood altering capabilities giving the user a short-lived high. The rate of addiction depends on the method of use applied where smoking or vaping is the quickest forms. They take approximately ten seconds to get into the blood stream and the brain. When it reaches the brain it produces adrenaline immediately giving the body a pleasurable feeling of high. Sadly, it does not last long and cause the user to feel tired and down, wanting that sensational high again.
Nicotine has both physical and psychological forms of addiction. Every time a person smokes nicotine enters the brain and the receptors absorb the substance. After it has been absorbed dopamine is released, resulting in a feeling of happiness and calm. This is the starting point of the physical addiction and as the intake of nicotine progresses, so does the number of receptors in the brain. As the body gets accustomed to the constant flow of nicotine, symptoms such as anxiety begin to manifest when a smoke break is missed and this is where the physical addiction begins. The psychological form is where the user may find themselves eliciting a feeling of love, relaxation or peace if they are used to light up during certain situations or around a given group of people. The feeling may get engrained in a way that its use is no longer a conscious choice.
The human body naturally tolerates nicotine but as you continue to take it for a while the body requires a higher amount for it to get the same amount of high. This repeated cycle of craving leads to addiction. The use of nicotine causes a change in the amount of hormones produced in the body and once you stop consuming it the body has to readjust again. This causes a hormone imbalance and the state of the body is said to be in withdrawal. In order to try and break the addiction, there are several factors that must be taken into accounts such as the current state of mind, the build of the abuser and even the environment in which the user is.
It affects many organs in the body the most crucial one being the heart. The body reacts to the introduction of the substance by increasing the heart rate. The heart needs to keep a certain rhythm to remain healthy but it becomes unhealthy when it increases yet you are inactive which is the case for most people when they smoke. This may cause heart problems such as cardiac infarction among other heart diseases. An increase in blood pressure is also common among nicotine users and may put the heart at risk. Nicotine also stimulates the respiratory and vascular system. A person craving nicotine may have irregular high breathing caused by anxiety and nervousness which may limit their physical abilities.
Treatment of Nicotine Addiction
Physical addiction can be treated using prescription medication and relaxation techniques which help ward off cravings. Mental addiction can be harder to shake as the user may not even realize why they are craving a cigarette. The user may find him /herself lighting one up without even realizing it. Counseling has been found to be highly effective as it helps the user talk through their feelings. It can also help work through tough and stressful situations in which they would normally turn to cigarettes. Nicotine replacement theory has also been found to be effective for heavy smokers who smoke who smoke about half a pack of cigarettes or more every day. This type of therapy provides products that give the user a low dose of nicotine to help reduce the craving and even ease the symptoms when the user stops. They come in various forms such as a skin patch, inhalers, nasal spray and even gum.
Heroin, scientifically known as diacetylmorphine was first synthesized in 1874 in London. Heroin was initially used as a cough suppressant, anti diarrheal and even as a non-addictive substitute for morphine. However, later on, the addictive and harmful effects were realized. It is a powerful pain killer and is available by prescription in some countries such as the United Kingdom. It is also used for palliative care as well. In the Netherlands, it is prescribed for recovering addicts when methadone treatment has failed. Heroin can be taken into the body in various ways such as; injection, smoking, ingestion and even snort. Research shows that heroin euphoria is highest when injected and lowest when ingested. It has also been found that the faster it enters the bloodstream, the greater the chances of addiction, making injections the most addictive form of heroin use.
Heroin is a type of opioid hence once consumed it attaches itself to the opioid receptors of the brain. When the opioid receptors interact with the opioid drugs it leads to the activation of the brain’s reward system temporarily feeling the user with a sense of euphoria. The more it is ingested the body tends to build a tolerance and with time it grows into an addiction. The short-term effect may last a few hours after ingestion but the intensity and duration of the effects may vary. Some of the factors that may cause the variation are the method used and even the person using. Apart from the rush there are other short-term effects such as dry mouth, mental confusion, constricted pupils, nausea, vomiting, slowed heart rate, slowed breathing and even possible respiratory failure among others.
The long-term effects of prolonged heroin use may cause the user to develop some of the following conditions; neuronal and hormonal imbalance, abscesses, vomiting, insomnia, chills, collapsed veins, heart lining and valve infection, liver disease, brain white matter deterioration, decreased ability to respond to stressful situations and the user can also find him/ herself at a high risk of contracting HIV among other blood-borne pathogens
Heroin Recovery Steps
It all begins with a qualified medically assisted detoxification. Medically assisted detox practitioners use formulated therapies that mimic some of the effects of heroin and provide the recovering user with medication that replaces the feeling of being high with that of being healthy, focused and strong. Medication used in these detox programs are provided on a tapering schedule. This typically means that the user is provided with an equivalent amount of replacement medication and then slowly the medication is tapered until they are no longer taking replacement medication at all.
This means that it might take a while to reach sobriety. A study carried out on recovering heroin addicts showed that recovering addicts want to get sober as quick as possible and some tend to amend their medication dose to get sober faster. This meant that some were at high risk of relapse due to recurring cravings. Hence use of the medication properly with the guidance of a medical treatment team is a vital part of the recovery process. People in these programs have a lot of control and can tell their teams when the drugs seem to make them feel slow or sedated. They can point out signs of sedation indicating the drugs are too strong. After a successful detox, therapy is recommended which could be either group or private depending on the preference of the recovering user. Private therapy is usually a coaching session where they are given insight and personalized help that they may require to recover. Group therapy tends to tap into the human need to belong. In group sessions, they are enticed to share and connect among themselves free from any sort of judgment. It helps build confidence and helps them emerge feeling a lot less isolated.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It was originally used by the indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest to get an energetic high. European scientists first isolated cocaine from the coca leaves in the 1850s. Cocaine is now scientifically described as a drug whose function is to increase the availability of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for euphoric emotions as well as regulation of movement and the processing of reward cues. It is found to be suitable as a recreational drug due to it’s perceived positive effects on mood, motivation, and energy. The users of this drug consume it in various ways such as smoking, snorting or injecting it into their system. Users who use it recreationally also are at risk of neurological changes which are associated with the inability to control and regulate one,s behavior.
The typical signs that can be used to identify a current user of this substance are; disinhibition, increased agitation, changes in concentration and focus, signs of involuntary movement, effusive enthusiasm and increased agitation among other symptoms. One of the more serious effects of cocaine is the damage it causes to the heart muscles. It is caused by inducing cell death in the muscles of the heart. Intravenous cocaine use may lead to the inflammation of the inner tissues of the organ. These among other cellular effects of cocaine may cumulate into serious conditions such as cardiac arrhythmias and heart attack both of which are very fatal. Cocaine-induced heart failure may result in brain damage or a stroke as a result of the interruption of blood flow to the brain. Long-term use of this substance leads to a deficit in cognitive performance, attention and decision-making abilities. Other harmful effects can be found to originate from bloodborne conditions such as HIV.
Cocaine Treatment and Recovery
There are various treatment options available for recovering users, which can actually be delivered on an inpatient or outpatient facility. An inpatient facility tends to accommodate the user for the duration of their therapy. The nature of the treatment may be behavioral and pharmacological. Behavioral therapy tends to address the reasons and motivations associated with a person’s substance abuse. Researchers have found the technique to be very effective, especially among recovering users and an example is the contingency management. During this treatment, the use of incentives is the basis on which the rehabilitation is carried out.
Pharmacological or drug-based therapy refers to the use of medications to treat the dependence by physiological means. In this type of treatment medications that mimic the substance of abuse is used at a reduced or different extent. Methylphenidate treatment is an emerging form of treatment which was initially prescribed for patients with ADHD, which is in some ways similar to cocaine in terms of neurological effects. The stimulant effects of the drug act on the brain for a longer time but elicit less extreme reactions compared to cocaine. The aim is to slowly remove the dependence over time. It is important to note that medically assisted treatment is program specific and not universally offered.
The Social Effects of Drug Abuse
Those people closest to individuals with drug addictions are the hardest hit during these situations. Patterns tend to emerge in families where a member is found to be an addict and is treated with a high level of criticism and negativism. In the case where the child is found to be the addict, the parents are mostly found to be in denial. In cases where the parent is the addict the child takes up the parental role and often functions in denial of the parent’s addiction. Researchers found that drug or alcohol abuse is responsible for more than 70% of all foster placements and up to 80% of child abuse and neglect cases as well.
Co-workers as well take on additional responsibilities at work to accommodate the decrease in productivity. The additional responsibility may be in the form of the extra long hours or overtime. A decrease in productivity with time may increase losses which in turn affect the business.
The effects of substance abuse in the society vary, but some of the most common effects are; increase in domestic disputes, increase in the rate of violent crimes, increased rate of homelessness and poverty, increased rate of co-occurring mental disorders, increase in the number of people who are incarcerated due to drug-related charges among many others.
The Social Responsibility of a Community Against Drug Abuse
The community as a whole needs to play an active role in streamlining and curbing the drug menace. The following are some of the ways that the society can help curb the drug menace; the society should ensure there is free treatment for drug abusers on demand and remove the barriers restricting treatment which is far less expensive than criminalization. Holding people responsible for crimes committed while under the influence of a substance should be strongly adhered to and the person held accountable for their own actions.
A research study was carried out and it was found that a large percentage of people who are arrested or forced to visit a rehabilitation center is not addicted, but only found in possession of the drug hence the centers tend to be filled with people who do not require the services offered at the facilities.